When starting out a brand new WordPress blog, you are given a fresh install and the opportunity to create the podcasting website of your dreams. This could be a very easy task for some. WordPress and it’s powerful Content Management System provides a very quick and simple infrastructure to create a new post and drop in an audio file into the post editor.
However, WordPress also provides you with the ability to add functionality through its Plugin’s system to allow you to give your podcast exactly what it needs to get noticed. The problem with plugins is… Which plugins should you choose? Which should you not choose? What plugins are going to work for my particular website theme? How do I make the most of WordPress and not get stuck with plugins that aren’t comparable? How do I put myself into the position to design once and have to build something that I will soon need to destroy and start over? (This is the most fun thing to do in my opinion)
Many of these plugins are the “Top 10 of WordPress Plugins” and I am adding them here because they have been great friends of mine for several years. Some of these plugins are not so well known but have also been friends who have served me on many website projects. This list certainly isn’t the definitive list of plugins. If you have your own favorite plugin, please feel free to add your list and links to the bottom in the comments area.
The Essential Plugins
These plugins are the “Can’t Live Without” plugins. Whenever I start a new WordPress project, these are the first extensions that I install. The best part of these plugins is that they are of the “set it and forget it” variety. They are very lightweight and won’t slow down your website very much.
Akismet is your spam filter. It is a “free” plugin that manages comments made to your website and determines if they are real or spam. Installing Akismet requires you to sign up for their service where you will be given an install code. Keep this code handy as you can use it over and over on future WordPress websites.
One of the most underrated plugins in the WordPress repository is Jetpack. We all talk about the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. There are several great features of .com that are not available in the .org or “self-hosted” versions of WordPress. This is where Jetpack comes in. To fully install Jetpack, you will need a free account on WordPress.com. To obtain this, simply sign up for a WordPress.com blog and use your login credentials. Jetpack gives you the ability to install which of its powerful modules you wish to use on your website. For TeacherCast, I use the Statistics module to keep me updated on my daily visitors. Jetpack is also the needed plugin for your self-hosted website to connect to the official WordPress app.
Plugins for Migrating your Website
Many people find WordPress after setting up their homepage on another service. WordPress makes it very easy to transfer your old posts and content into your new home. Just a bit of advice: When you input your old posts, they will import and automatically be activated. My advice is to turn these posts off and activate them one at a time so you can check each of them for new formatting against the theme. Another piece of advice is to do the importing step after you have a solid series of plugins installed. You wouldn’t want to import and format 100 posts and amend them to your new theme . . . and THEN add the SEO plugin. Turn on a few posts, see how your site looks, and then continue building functionality.
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). This means that all of your content is saved as a database. This format makes your pages and posts very easy to import and export. The WordPress Importer provides a simple interface to bring in your posts from other CMS’s.
Whether you are starting from scratch, or importing from an older website, you want to make sure you are being as efficient as possible when designing your website. It is a very tedious and long process to create a new page and have it exactly how you want. Imagine having to go through this process for EVERY page and post you create. Using a plugin such as Duplicate Post allows you to create a template page and then build off it. This is a BIG time saver. When you are not in build mode, this plugin can be deactivated.
When you are building your site from scratch, often you will want to put up a front door on your website to let people know that you are working on something totally awesome. The Ultimate Coming Soon Page plugin provides a single page that you can customize to your liking with graphics, backgrounds, and even a signup button to your blog.
Pretty Link Lite
Whenever you listen to my podcast, you will hear me giving away my twitter address as TeacherCast.net/twitter. This is done for two reasons. First, I have the ability to grow and secure my company branding. To say TeacherCast.net reminds my audience what my website is. To then say Twitter gives my users an easy tag to remember where they are going. Secondly, as a user of the Pretty Link plugin, I have access to complete analytics on each of these custom URL’s. If you really want to take advantage of this plugin, use the premium Pretty Link Pro and really explode this plugin's functionality.
There are thousands upon thousands of plugins in the WordPress Repository and many of them are excellent. When starting a new WordPress project, these are the six plugins that I simply can’t live without. They are all stable plugins that allow me to build a strong foundation for my project.
What is your favorite Plugin?
Did your favorite plugin make the list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.